A dog can save lives by letting us know when there's been an accident, by keeping us humans from blowing each other up, or in any number of ways through specialized training. Heck, they can even perform life-saving surgery on you in a pinch (though we strongly recommend against this).
Indeed, a dog can protect you; from fighting off a bear, to helping take down the world's most wanted terrorist mastermind, canine loyalty and courage is legendary. And it doesn't stop there: a dog can give a human the gift of independence, teach us responsibility and empathy, and and keep us calm and comforted after experiencing major trauma.
And hey, they're willing to do some pretty silly tricks for us, too. Dogs are truly a gift when you get down to it, and it's hard to imagine them doing more for their humans than they already do, but oh, how they do...
A new study in the European Respitory Journal shows that dogs are better at sniffing out the early markers of lung cancer than the latest medical technologies at our disposal. Lung cancer is the second most frequent form of cancer in men and women across the United States and Europe, accounting for approximately 500,000 deaths per year.
Now, the idea that dogs can sniff out cancer is nothing new. We've always known they have amazing noses, and there have long been tales of dogs being mysteriously fascinated by cancerous moles, or even of dogs detecting cancer that had been missed by doctors. And we witnessed some fascinating presentations on canine cancer detection in last year's Assistance Dogs International conference, too. No, nothing new here... one might be tempted to write this off as old hat.
But in the case of lung cancer, a disease that is hard to detect before it has significantly progressed (making it a lot more difficult to treat), this is a big freakin' deal. Especially when you stop to consider the sensitivity of modern diagnostic equipment. "Amazing noses" just doesn't come close to describing the power of a dog's schnoz; I have little doubt that it's something well beyond my own imaginings.
No word of hospitals rushing out to invest in sniffer dogs, but this is definitely something we can add to the long -- and growing -- list of ways dogs improve our lives.
Thanks, guys! Now what can we do for you?